ANGRY traders have been left counting the cost of a power cut that blacked out part of Clitheroe town centre at the weekend.
Shops, hotels and cafés were left without power all day Friday and most of Saturday, losing trade in what should been their busiest period of the week.
And Clitheroe Health Centre, left without heat, light, telephones and computers, had to turn patients away and run an emergency service from two nearby terrace premises.
Workers from Electricity North West dug holes in Railway View Road to trace the “difficult” fault and temporary traffic lights controlled town centre traffic.
The lights went out on Friday morning when the power cut hit more than 90 premises in the King Street and Castle Street area of town.
A mobile generator was brought in to restore power, but sporadic cuts and dips in power levels continued through to Saturday afternoon.
One of the worst-hit businesses was the Inn at the Station in Railway Road. Partners Gary and Louise Clough had to find their bed and breakfast guests somewhere else to stay, and cancel Friday night’s band gig. There was no hot food and drinkers sat sipping bottled drinks by candlelight.
“It totally devastated the weekend trade,” Mr Clough said.
“We tried to make the best of a bad job, but it will take a couple of months to make up for the lost takings.”
Becky Stephenson, owner of the Bonita beauty salon in King Street, said: “We were fully booked for Friday and had to cancel all our appointments and send two staff home.
“I moved some appointments from Friday to Saturday because we’d been told the power would be back on. Clients just didn’t believe it when we were off for a second day.”
Helen Wilson, owner of the Apricot Meringue café, said: “We tried to accommodate our customers by making coffee, tea and soup on the gas hob and serving cakes, but we couldn’t cook anything.
“I kept ringing up asking for an update, but I kept getting told the same thing, that it may be another hour or so. There should be compensation for the businesses that were affected.”
At Clitheroe Health Centre, the two medical practices – Castle and Pendleside – swung into action with a well prepared contingency plan. Staff stood at the doors all day on Friday to explain the situation to patients who turned up for routine appointments, and doctors and nurses manned the old terrace premises to deal with urgent cases.
Staff loaded fridges containing perishable vaccines on trolleys and wheeled them to safety.
Castle medical practice manager Mr Phil Mileham said: “Because the phones were out, we were unable to contact people and they couldn’t contact us. It has left us with a backlog of appointments that we are now dealing with.”
Power cuts and surges activated a security system at Barclays Bank in Castle Street on Saturday, filling the building with harmless smoke.
Staff were evacuated and the smoke billowed out of windows as Clitheroe firefighters used pressure ventilators to clear it away.
Branch manager Ashley Williams said: “Our computer system had been affected by the cuts and we hadn’t opened to the public on Saturday morning, so there were no customers in.”
A spokeswoman for Electricity North West said the fault in an underground cable had proved difficult to trace but had now been fixed and there would be no further cuts. Workers were expected to be on site until Friday clearing up.
She added that any claims for compensation would be dealt with by the customer relations team.